Foreign travellers to Laos have to now fetch an additional dollar as a new tourism tax has been implementing since October 1st. The timing is rather unsensitive as the country is launching a new digital campaign called “Inspiring Laos” and integrated to the video campaign Mekong Moments of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office.
It is the latest present that Laos decided to introduce for its Visit Laos Year 2018: a new tourist tax of one US dollar to be charged to all foreign travellers entering the country. The idea of a tax has been on for a long time but to implement it just on the Visit Laos Year is a rather strange decision. Especially as tourism continues to decline this year despite ongoing campaign.
The low profile of the Visit Laos Year and unfavourable events such as heavy rain and the dam collapse a few months ago probably had a deterring effect over potential travellers. Another factor has been the failure of the government to implement a much-promised abolition of the visa on arrival for some countries or to introduce the e-visa.
The one-dollar tourist tax was quietly introduced at all of border checkpoints 1 October. Thai border pass holders have also to pay the dollar tax. It has to be paid cash and so far in dollar currency. The tax would generate between 3.5 and 4 million dollars a year and should normally be used for tourism promotion as well as for tourism development.
As is always the case the Ministry of Tourism’s website and the official tourismlaos.org site or the official news agency did not communicate over the newly implemented fee.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Tourism, Information and Culture as well as the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, the Asia Development Bank (ADB) and GIZ, the German Development Agency, to launch on October 18 a new digital travel website collecting stories about Laos and called ‘Inspiring Laos’. The site will be part of the general website Mekong Moments, which collects videos from amateurs about the various Mekong countries.